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Mahadev app co-owner under round-the-clock surveillance: Officials

By, Mumbai
Dec 27, 2023 07:30 AM IST

MOB co-promoter Ravi Uppal, 43, was detained by Dubai authorities last fortnight and is awaiting extradition to India.

Law enforcement authorities in Dubai have placed Sourabh Chandrakar, the 28-year-old co-owner of Mahadev Online Book (MOB) betting platform, under round-the-clock surveillance to prevent him from fleeing the United Arab Emirates (UAE), an officer close to the development told HT.

Sourabh Chandrakar, co-owner of Mahadev Online Book betting platform.(HT File)
Sourabh Chandrakar, co-owner of Mahadev Online Book betting platform.(HT File)

MOB co-promoter Ravi Uppal, 43, was detained by Dubai authorities last fortnight and is awaiting extradition to India.

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) and several police units in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and other states in India are investigating MOB platform which runs approximately 60 sites and has 2000 panels or branches for illegal betting and money laundering. According to the ED, the two MOB promoters were making a profit of 30- 40 lakh per panel or branch every month until the crackdown. While Chandrakar ran a small juice shop in the town until 2017, Uppal too ran a small business pertaining to tyres. After the two men pooled resources, they began building an online betting empire through ersatz call centres that operate closed WhatsApp and Telegram groups and used benami bank accounts to receive and launder money, as per the ED investigation so far.

READ | Mahadev app row: Inside the dark ‘mirror’ world of gambling apps

The Mahadev Book was incorporated as “Mahadevbook Markets Limited” at Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean on June 21, 2021 and soon after which Uppal and Chandrakar moved to Dubai.

In February this year Chandrakar got married at a lavish ceremony Ras Al-Khaimah in the UAE for which, ED claims, he spent over 200 crore. That money too is under investigation as proceeds of crime. The Interpol had issued a Red Corner Notice against Chandrakar this October, and now that his Dubai residence and his presence there has been ascertained, it’s a matter of weeks before he is extradited to India, after the requisite permission from a Dubai court, said the officer speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The MOB franchisee model that started in 2019 across India, ran on a 30:70 profit sharing ratio with the Dubai-based head office (HO) controlled by Chandrakar and Uppal, with the larger sum going to the two men.

READ | Mahadev betting case: App owner Ravi Uppal detained in Dubai

It’s the ED’s case that Uppal and Chandrakar bought assets in the UAE, London, Sri Lanka and Australia and routed money through the Cayman Islands. The ED has identified MOB assets worth 100 crore in Dubai which mostly consists offices and villas used to lodge their employees. So far, the ED has seized or frozen assets worth 567.02 crore.

Chandrakar and Uppal are among the 14 accused named in ED’s first charge sheet submitted before a special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court in Raipur in October. The ED had earlier approached the Interpol for a Red Corner Notice against the duo via the Central Bureau of Investigation. After Chandrakar and Uppal failed to honour the summons issued on September 1 and September 2 under a provision of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, ED filed an application before the special court in Raipur requesting for open-ended non-bailable warrants against the two, officials said.

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